By BroadCasting & Cable Staff -- Broadcasting & Cable, 11/26/2006 7:00:00 PM
The loss of John M. Higgins inspired hundreds of letters. You'll find the complete version of tributes on our Web site, broadcastingcable.com. Below are excerpts from just a few:
We flunked out of Notre Dame together in the early '80s when the time we divided between the student newspaper and classes favored the paper by a factor of about 10.
In 1991 we were at a reunion of the school paper, and during a formal affair, the power went off. Time went by, and we mentioned to the current students running the paper that it seemed like a good story (big football weekend, lengthy blackout, lots of chaos, etc.), and they looked at us like we were crazy. So I said to John, "Why don't you do the story for them?" He disappeared into the dark and—at most 10 minutes later— reappeared with the reason for the blackout (substation explosion), an underlying cause (recent budget cuts had gutted inspections) and an angle worth pursuing (reduced inspections may have violated state law).
Ryan Ver Berkmoes
Author, Portland, Ore.
During our years together at B&C, John was our journalistic conscience. We never had to refer to any corporate or other outside policy about what was right or wrong, about the ethics of the matter. We just had to ask John. His standards were always higher than anybody else's. If we could meet them, we were on safe ground.
John was a man of strong opinions. He knew what he liked and didn't like and would let you know. But he loved life, and I don't think he hated anything, except, as all his editors came to know, a deadline.
Harry A. Jessell
Former Editor in Chief
Broadcasting & Cable
I recall a week-long hospital stay I had at the NYU Medical Center—a cozy 10-minute walk from the B&C offices and a 25-minute walk to the nearest train back to his home in Hoboken—when John showed the kind of heart he had. My first day there, he stopped by and brought along a large fruit smoothie, the kind of treat that can make the difference between a good and bad day in a hospital.
He must have noticed my elation. Every day for the next five, John did the same thing. And it was early December, not May. Each night, he showed up like clockwork at 7:30 p.m., smoothie in hand, to check on me. It was an act of kindness that no doubt resulted in his copy being a little extra late that week.
Former Technology Reporter
Broadcasting & Cable
John Higgins was the most intrepid reporter to cover the media beat in the last quarter-century. He was an original and a consummate friend. He inspired all of us. I will miss him. God bless you, John.
One time, IAC Chairman Barry Diller was giving his quarterly exhortation in one of the earnings call. Diller was being his usual irascible self, prefacing every answer with his usual, "Well, that's an ignorant question." Then Higgins asks a pointed question about a possible acquisition, to which Diller responds, "Regulation FD rules prevent me from discussing that." Higgins shoots back, "Actually, under Reg FD, this is exactly the kind of forum in which you could answer that question." It was one of the few times I've heard Diller flustered.
But my way to Higgins' heart would always be through music. He joined me to see the Mekons at Maxwell's in Hoboken about 10 years ago.
There we were, two overweight guys bouncing up and down to punk rock without the slightest trace of irony. When the show was over, he looked over at me and said, "Better than Cats."
We often measured the success of the CTAM Summit in part on whether Higgins would admit he got some news while he was there. It became a metric in our planning: "Will this speaker stand up to the Higgins test?"
John Higgins was the best financial analyst not on Wall Street.
The skills of being a financial reporter and being a financial analyst are interchangeable. It just depends on who you work for and whether you're governed by securities regulations or the First Amendment.
Like the best reporters or analysts, Higgins built his network well. John was the network; a focal point for ideas, for trades of information and reports, and for spying on the competition. He was, in one human force, what Berlin was to the Cold War, or Hong Kong was to the spies of Asia. Those at the Times or the Journal who didn't hire him because of his rough sartorial habits and similarly rough personality never knew what they missed.
He was quick to judge. Those who burned him once never recovered. But, once judged positively, he was long on friendship, so long as you didn't expect that good friendship was a trade for good journalism.
Those who know how the media information engine room works, will also know that the impact of this loss will go far wider than this magazine. It is the loss of a man at the center … a man whose tendrils wrapped themselves around and through the entire industry.
John Higgins was the Information Superhighway.
Higgins knew how to develop sources and, in our case at Lifetime, certainly among women. I don't think there are many reporters who supply their contacts with Prada sample-sales alerts as John did regularly.
John was a true original. At his wedding, when taking his vows, he boomed "I, Higgins, take thee, Debbie…." The wedding program announced that, despite his vows, "Higgins will be keeping his name."
We will all keep his memory in our hearts. We were lucky and blessed to know him, and our love goes out to his family and especially Debbie.
Executive VP, Public Affairs,
April 9, 2007
To the Editor:
Your April 6th story on the recently released, and deeply flawed, â€œstudyâ€ that found nearly one in ten videos on YouTube are stolen demonstrates the severity of the problem of video piracy and the need for immediate action.
The first page of the report highlights its greatest flaw â€“ â€œthis report does not account for any copyrighted videos that have not been removed by YouTubeâ€ (Abstract). The authors only count crimes that have both been reported and solved. If the police used this logic our official crime rate would be much lower, even if the amount of crime actually increased.
A bit of a reality check helps explain how badly flawed the report is. A quick search for â€œAmericaâ€™s Funniest Home Videosâ€ on YouTube at about 4:30 on Saturday April 7 gets 515 hits. Itâ€™s easy to see most are stolen â€“ many still have the ABC logo in the corner. The day after the Oscars the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences asked YouTube to remove all clips from the show. Yet a search for â€œEllen Oscarsâ€ gets more than 100 replies, some of which are Ellen Degeneresâ€™s opening monologue, even more than a month after the program. A search for â€œDaily Showâ€ â€“ which of course is one of the Viacom shows that led to the recent legal action, gets nearly 10,000 hits.
Another claim of the report is that â€œonlyâ€ 9.23% of clips on YouTube were removed at the request of copyright holders because they were stolen. That high an error rate is almost always a cause for concern. Imagine if â€œonlyâ€ 10% of all toasters exploded, or if you were mugged only once every ten times you walked home. Ten percent, which is obviously a huge undercount, is a very big deal and indicates an even larger problem.
Video sharing sites need to stop talking about blocking stolen clips and need to start blocking them. And if they donâ€™t start immediately Congress needs to hold the people who run these sites accountable.
Vin Di Bona
Chair, The Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors
Chairman, Creator and Executive Producer, Vin Di Bona Productions, programs include â€œAmericaâ€™s Funniest Home Videosâ€
Vin Di Bona - 4/9/2007 1:28:00 PM EDT
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